Skip to comments.Earliest Domesticated Dog Uncovered
Posted on 05/08/2003 5:55:22 PM PDT by blam
Earliest Domesticated Dogs Uncovered
By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Skull of a Stone Age Dog
April 7, 2003 The skulls of two Stone Age dogs believed to be the earliest known canines on record have been found, according to a team of Russian scientists.
The dog duo, which lived approximately 14,000 years ago, appear to represent the first step of domestication from their wild wolf ancestors.
Mikhail Sablin, a scientist at the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, along with his colleague Gennady Khlopachev, analyzed the dog remains, which were found at the Eliseevichi I site in the Bryansk region of Russia's central plain, according to an Informnauka press agency release.
"We suggest that the dogs looked like present-day Tibetan mastiffs or Caucasian sheep dogs," Sablin told Discovery News. "The dogs had a much wider palate and shorter rostrum than Siberian huskies and Great Danes. The reconstructed withers height is about 70 cm (27.56 inches), therefore the dogs belonged to a very strange and dangerous heavy hunting/guarding breed."
Both Sablin and his colleague believe humans domesticated the dogs from local northern wolves at the site. While large and strong, the Stone Age canines exhibited relatively short snouts, which distinguished them from their wild wolf ancestors.
The dogs perished as adults. But at the time of their deaths they were probably remembered more as man's best dinner rather than man's best friend. One of the skulls had a hole where a human likely removed the brain for consumption, as was the common practice in later known periods.
Their skulls were found next to the bones of a mammoth, an Arctic fox and a reindeer. It is probable that those animals also wound up as meat for Stone Age humans.
During their lifetimes, the canines likely were hunting and guard dogs, according to the researchers.
Sablin explained that certain humans already had begun to partially control labor, trade and ritualistic social activities. The unequal distribution of resources led to a social hierarchy, with people of prestige and power getting Stone Age status symbols, like dogs.
He said, "In this context it can be assumed that the large wolf-like dogs were used to guard not only against predators, (but also) their presence (at a particular site) may have indicated the high social status of the inhabitants."
Susan Crockford, an archaeozoologist at Pacific Identifications, Inc., a firm that specializes in identification of birds and animals from archaeological remains, agreed that the Russian dogs "are certainly the oldest complete skulls from this early period," and said, "â¦the evidence is good that these are truly domestic dogs."
She added that other, slightly later, dog remains have been found in Israel, Germany and the Czech Republic but, "I think (the Eliseevichi dogs) remind us that there must be many more than one center of domestication, and not just the Middle East as was once thought."
Will Rogers once said that if dogs can't go to heaven, he wanted to go wherever they do go.
Tonight, UNSPUN with AnnaZ!
6pm pdt/9pm edt
Miss a show? Click HERE for the RadioFR Archives!
Artist's conception of the earliest dog
Please don't insult dogs.
Am I the only one to think that maybe their higher status came from having the dogs? That they were used to help them hunt and protect their stuff rather then the dogs being a Stone Age Gucci bag.
Even just as an early warning system dogs would be very useful. (Not to mention, meals on legs)
They waited until early man was asleep, and gnawed his toes. :)
That's 98000 dog years ago.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.